Abercrombie & Fitch Co posted a much bigger-than-expected quarterly net loss as cost-cutting efforts failed to offset a sales decline, and its shares fell 7.5 percent in premarket trading.

The apparel retailer also said it was conducting a strategic review of its Ruehl chain, whose sales at stores open at least a year declined 34 percent in the quarter.

Besides Ruehl, Abercrombie also runs its namesake stores and other chains such as Hollister Co and Gilly Hicks.

Abercrombie has been battered in recent months as its strategy of keeping prices higher than competitors has not impressed thrifty U.S. shoppers, although the retailer has discounted clearance items.

With a challenging economic environment, the consumer continues to show a reluctance to spend on premium brands; a price consciousness dictating shopping habits unlike anything I have ever seen, Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said in a statement.

Abercrombie's net loss was $26.8 million, or 31 cents per share in the first quarter that ended May 2, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $62.1 million, or 69 cents a share.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 12 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales fell 24 percent to $612.1 million, while same-store sales fell 30 percent.

As a result of the strategic review of its Ruehl chain, Abercrombie expects to record a noncash impairment charge of up to $55 million for the first quarter.

The company's shares fell to $25.21 in trading before the market opened from Thursday's New York Stock Exchange close of $27.25.

(Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)